MOSCOW (MRC) -- Elkem (Oslo, Norway) says it has received 10.0 million Norwegian kroner (USD1.1 million) in financial support from Enova (Trondheim, Norway), a state enterprise owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, to fund initial planning for a potential large-scale battery materials plant in Norway, reported Chemweek.
The project, named Northern Recharge, aims to supply the fast-growing battery industry through a competitive production process and make batteries greener with lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the company says.
Elkem recently selected Heroya, one of the biggest industrial parks in Norway, as the project site. The company will now continue to progress the Northern Recharge project towards a final investment decision in 2021, it says. “Securing this initial support from Enova is an important step as we progress towards a final investment decision,” says Michael Koenig, CEO of Elkem. The company is also inviting industrial and financial partners to participate, he says.
The project will produce synthetic graphite and composites, which are the leading anode materials in lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery cells, the company says. Using Elkem's technology and renewable hydropower, the project can potentially reduce CO2 emissions by more than 90% compared to conventional production, while potentially reducing energy consumption by around 50%, it says.
“Batteries will undoubtedly play an important role in a future low-emission society. The production of batteries, however, is energy-consuming, so we need to see production processes that are more energy-efficient in the future," says Oyvind Leistad, director/markets at Enova.
Graphite demand is expected to increase more than 10 times from today’s level to 2030, with most battery cell and graphite production currently taking place in Asia, Elkem says. Graphite as an anode material typically represents around 10% of the total battery weight, it notes. The Northern Recharge project “competitively positions us for large-scale and cost-effective material science solutions for the rapidly developing European battery industry,” says Stian Madshus, vice president/battery materials at Elkem.
Elkem has invested NKr 65 million in the building of a pilot plant for battery graphite at Kristiansand, Norway, to evaluate the project's viability. This is expected to open at the beginning of 2021, with the project supported by Innovation Norway, a state-owned company, and a national development bank, Elkem says.
The company says it is also continuing to carry out research on silicon-graphite composite materials for improved battery performance, joining the Hydra and 3beLiEVe research projects on next generation Li-ion batteries coordinated by SINTEF and the Austrian Institute of Technology, respectively. Both projects have received funding from the EU's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, it says.
As MRC informed before, Elkem (Oslo, Norway) says it will invest 180.0 million Norwegian krone (USD19.7 million) in a new plant in Canada to pilot an industrial biocarbon process specifically for silicon and ferrosilicon production. The plant will be constructed near Elkem’s production site at Chicoutimi, Quebec, with start of construction planned for the second half of 2020, the company says. The project has received financial support from the Canadian government, the Quebec government, and the city of Saguenay, reducing Elkem’s net investment to NKr60 million.
We remind that the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted the development of Norway's offshore oil and gas projects, pushing up costs and postponing startups, the government and oil company Equinor announced. The costs of ongoing projects rose by 13.2 billion Norwegian crowns (USD1.4 billion) from a year ago on an inflation-adjusted basis, government documents showed, as COVID-19 restrictions stalled construction at several fields. "The COVID-19 pandemic and weakened Norwegian (currency) have negatively impacted some of the projects, but the combined project portfolio is still very resilient," Equinor said in a separate statement.
We also remind that BP and Equinor confirmed they are shutting in production on their platforms, while Chevron, BHP and others said they are evacuating some personnel and considering decisions on production reductions.
As reported earlier, Chevron Phillips Chemical, part of Chevron Corporation, still has not lifted force majeure on its polyethylene (PE) products after assessing the impact of Hurricane Laura to its Gulf Coast PE operations. The force majeure circumstances were declared on 1 September, 2020. CP Chem operates a 420,000 mt/year high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plant in Orange, Texas, and an 855,000 mt/year cracker in Port Arthur. The company plans to minimize the impact of the event and return to full PE deliveries as soon as possible.
According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,496,500 tonnes in the first eight months of 2020, up by 5% year on year. Shipments of all ethylene polymers increased, except for linear low desnity polyethylene (LLDPE).